BROOKINGS – For about a decade, the Share the Warmth event has tried to make sure people have winter clothes.
This year’s event is set from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 18 at Faith Reformed Church, located at 1330 Main Ave. S. in Brookings.
It is open to anyone in need and there is no pre-registration; just show up, said Jill Lindsay-Johnson and Rebecca Peters, co-chairs of Share the Warmth for the Salvation Army.
The event is being organized by the Salvation Army, with support from Brookings Area United Way; Larson Manufacturing; and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
They are taking donations until Oct. 11 of new and gently used items, such as coats, hats, gloves or mittens, scarves, snow pants and snow boots. Especially needed are items for kids grade 5 and younger.
Donation boxes are set up at area churches and schools, as well as Lewis, JCPenney, Hy-Vee and The UPS Store.
Volunteers are needed for general work, and interpreters are also needed.
“So that everyone doesn’t come at one time” there is an alphabetical system, said Lindsay-Johnson.
The two women said the event has become even more important to make sure the kids are safe from the cold.
“Some children are still walking to school in the dead of winter; on some of our coldest days, you still see kids outside walking,” Peters said.
For the event to work, they need donations of cold weather gear such as coats, snow pants, snow boots, hats, gloves or mittens, and scarves.
“(We’re) focused on school-age children, specifically fifth grade and under,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
Those are the grades that go outside for recess and the Salvation Army wants to make sure they’re covered, Peters said.
“We are in most need of water-proof gloves,” Peters said, and they need them in all sizes. “We always run short.”
“Snow pants and boots,” Lindsay-Johnson added.
“I’d say those are our three top ones right now,” Peters said.
Items can be new or used, just as long as zippers work and there are no holes, Peters said.
If you would prefer to write a check, make it out to Salvation Army Brookings and mail to Faith Reformed Church; 1330 Main Ave. S.; Brookings, SD 57006.
To get everything organized by Oct. 18, they need the donations by Oct. 11. Items can be dropped off at the distribution boxes around town. If a group is conducting a drive and has collected a lot of items, they can contact Salvation Army for help at [email protected], Lindsay-Johnson said. Faith Reformed Church’s number is 692-9049.
Organizers still need some volunteers to help set up on Oct. 17, and they need lots of volunteers the day of the event, and volunteers to help clean up the day after.
“We generally need 15-20 volunteers per (two-hour) time slot setting up and during shifts on distribution day,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
“On distribution day, then you will help be a shopper for a family,” Peters said, as well as other work.
Volunteers can call 211 and get more information on how to sign up, or go to Share the Warmth’s Facebook event page by searching Share the Warmth 2018.
“There’s a sign-up genius on that event page and that’s how they sign up,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
In addition to general workers, Salvation Army also needs interpreters in Spanish and French, and they can also sign up on the Facebook page.
“We have had a few French-speaking people come through, families that are here either through the university or that are students,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
“Spanish speaking interpreters is what we’re in great need of all throughout the day on Oct. 18. The more people we have, the better,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
“Because sometimes we still ended up with families waiting for interpreters in order to go shopping,” Peters said.
Those volunteers are necessary to keep the well-ordered system running smoothly and make sure all get a chance to stay warm.
To reduce the crush, they have devised a system, based on the first letter of recipients’ last names:
• 9-11 a.m. – M-P
• 11 a.m.-1 p.m. – Q-S
• 1-3 p.m. – T-Z
• 3-5 p.m. – A-D
• 5-7 p.m. – E-H
• 7-8 p.m. – I-L
“They’ll fill out a form when they come in so that we have information to help them shop,” Peters said, adding it’s not a registration or an income form.
“Then they get paired up with a Salvation Army shopper that will help that family shop for all the items that they need,” Peters said.
“Our goal is a coat, snow pants, boots, hat, gloves and mittens; everything they need to go outside for recess,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
Need is great
The need for warm clothes has only grown in the past decade, the two said.
“We have historically helped over 300 families … And that’s not people; that’s families,” Lindsay-Johnson stressed, pointing out that some families have several people who need help, and every year they help more.
“I think there’s just a growing need in our community and being able to purchase all of these items for each of your children can be a very large financial burden for families,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
“I think the main drive that we all have is just safety, because of how terrible it can be to be out in the elements, not just for recess, but waiting for the bus, getting from activities if you don’t have warm clothes,” Lindsay-Johnson said.
“I mean, the temperatures that we see here on a regular basis throughout our winters – they’re dangerous to be in for anyone, adults included,” she said.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]